In this edition of Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors, the organization has four games postponed. Meanwhile, Jim Rutherford continues to make changes in the team’s front office and Bruce Boudreau has the team on a six-game win streak and back in a playoff spot.
Canucks’ Games Postponed
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association announced no team will cross the U.S. -Canada border until at least after Christmas break on Sunday, which means more postponed games for the Canucks. The team’s trip to San Jose to take on the Sharks in the upcoming week has been postponed, as well as the club’s matchup against the Anaheim Ducks in Vancouver. The Canucks had two other games postponed over the weekend, as the team was scheduled to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
The NHL postponed the matchups against the Maple Leafs and Coyotes as COVID-19 case counts around the NHL continue to rise. The Canucks have six players in COVID-19 protocol in Luke Schenn, Juho Lammikko, Brad Hunt, Tucker Poolman, Tyler Motte and Tyler Myers. Assistant coach Jason King is also in COVID-19 protocol.
Despite the postponed games, the Canucks held practice on Monday and did not shut down until Christmas like some other teams have had to, which is an encouraging site on the team’s Covid test results.
Rutherford Makes Changes to Front Office
President of hockey operations and interim general manager (GM) Rutherford continues to make changes to the team’s front office. The Canucks have named Derek Clancey as an assistant GM and promoted Stan Smyl to vice president of hockey operations(from ‘Canucks name Stan Smyl vice president of hockey operations, hire Derek Clancey as assistant GM,’ The Athletic, December 16, 2021). The team has yet to name a GM, but Rutherford hopes to hold in-person meetings in January.
Clancey will oversee the Canucks’ professional and amateur scouting staff. Clancey last worked as a pro scout for the Calgary Flames but was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins front office from 2007 to 2021. He served as the team’s director of player personnel from 2019 to February 2021. Rutherford stated he relied on the new assistant GM during his time as the Penguins GM.
“Derek has excellent experience and has played an important role on three Stanley Cup-winning teams,” Rutherford said. “He will be a key member of our leadership team as we create a progressive, collaborative hockey operations group that can support our team and players at all levels.”
Smyl, the previous interim GM, will work with Rutherford on all hockey matters, including player personnel decisions and internal operations. He has been with the franchise for 40 years as a player, coach and executive.
Rutherford confirmed Henrik and Daniel Sedin will stay on as special advisors to the GM, while Ryan Johnson continues his position as senior director, player development and GM for the Abbotsford Canucks. The president of hockey operations continues to make changes to the team’s front office to change the team’s culture.
Canucks Back in Playoff Race
The Canucks are back in the playoff race after winning six games straight under new head coach Boudreau. The team now has a 14-15-2 record and 30 points, six points out of the third seed in the Pacific Divison and the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
The team’s playoffs hopes were non-existent before the coaching and front office changes. The Canucks have seen their top players stepping up over their six-game win streak. Brock Boeser has scored five goals in six games, more than he had in the first 22 games of the season. Additionally, Bo Horvat has scored big goals for the club, including a two-goal performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets, as the captain scored the game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the game. Also, Pettersson is starting to heat up with two goals in the last two games, as well as the lone goal in the team’s shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Meanwhile, Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller continue to produce as they have all season. Hughes has six assists in six games, adding to his season a total of 26 points in 30 games, while Miller has added two goals and nine points to his 10 goals and team-leading 31 points in 31 games.
Boudreau has found a way of getting his top players to produce as they are expected to. With the club’s top players producing, added depth, improved play from the blue line and consistent goaltending from Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak, the Canucks can continue to fight for a spot in the postseason.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.